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9 Steps To Winterizing Your RV

While many RVers in British Columbia have extended their camping into the spring and fall and even through the winter, most put their RV to bed for the winter months. For those new to RVing we offer a few important steps you need to take to ensure your RV will survive the colder winter season.

You have 2 options. You can take your recreational vehicle to an RV dealer or, you can do it yourself.

Following are steps for winterizing your RV yourself provided by GoRVing Canada.

1. Fully winterize your water system

Frozen pipes mean cracked pipes. To avoid freezing, fully winterize your water system. Each unit has specific water system winterization guidelines to follow in your owner’s manual.

All units follow the most basic steps: First, ensure the water heater is off, then drain and flush all pipes. To remove every last drop of water, open all faucets while draining. When filling the system with antifreeze, make sure that the antifreeze reaches all faucets. Even pour antifreeze into all the drains.

2. Remove your batteries and store in a dry place

Winter temperatures are your RV’s worst predator. For all batteries, turn off the RV’s disconnect and breaker switches. Also, when disconnecting batteries, remove the negative cable first.

Single batteries are easy to winterize. Store fully-charged batteries in a warm, dry spot. Do not store batteries on a concrete floor, unless you want a dead battery by the end of winter. Concrete slowly drains the power from batteries.

Larger systems with multiple batteries will have specific instructions in the owner’s manual. It’s usually better to keep these batteries installed. If leaving your batteries in your RV, still disconnect the negative battery cable. Check the battery charge level periodically throughout the winter, and recharge when necessary.

3. Apply a coat of good quality wax or protectant to the RV exterior

Winterizing your RV means protecting it from all elements. To protect the exterior shell of your RV, purchase a good quality wax or protectant formula that is compatible with the composite of your unit. First, completely clean the exterior while checking for cracks or split seams. If you noticed any cracks while cleaning, patch these areas with a sealant specific to the materials of your RV. Then, wax the entire exterior.

4. Clean and dry your awning

While cleaning your RV’s exterior for waxing, clean and dry the awning. It’s important to make sure the awning fabric is completely dry to prevent moulding. The same goes for pop-up or fold-out trailers with fabric or canvas siding. Nothing worse than the smell of mildew.

5. Remove, clean, and replace your AC filters

While cleaning your RV’s exterior and awning, you should also clean the exterior of your air conditioning. Remove, clean, and replace the air conditioner’s filters before tucking your RV away for the winter. The goal is to leave your rig clean and dry so there are no surprises in the spring.

6. Service all locks and hinges

This step is quick and easy, but just as important as the rest if you want a well-working RV in the spring. Take a few minutes to lubricate your locks and hinges before stowing your RV to avoid creaks, jams, and breaks in the spring. A little lubing goes a long way!

7. Tidy and clean the interior

If your RV is going to be stored untouched for the winter months, you want to leave it sparkling clean. Again, you don’t want any surprises in the spring. A clean RV offers fewer hiding spaces for critters and mould. And by clean, we mean sanitize! Aside from general cleaning, remove all clothing and blankets to be stored at home. Lift couch cushions and mattresses and leave them propped against each other or walls for optimal airflow.

8. Use a dehumidifier to avoid mould and mildew build up

There are a few options to minimize moisture damage in your RV. If you plan to store your rig nearby with a power source and can check on it often, running a dehumidifier a few times throughout the winter will do the trick. Another option is to leave moisture absorbing materials inside the RV for the winter. Dry-The-Air is a popular moisture absorber.

9. Cover your RV wheels to protect from the elements

The last step, if you will be storing your RV outside, cover your wheels to protect them from the elements.

The jury is out on whether covering the entire RV with a tarp is a good idea or not. On one hand, it protects the outer shell from snow and debris. On the other side of the debate, a tarp could trap moisture so if you do cover it, be sure to use a breathable shell.

For more on winterizing your RV and other RV maintenance tips go to GoRVing Canada.

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Published: October 28, 2021
Last Updated: September 25, 2023

Camping RV in BC by Camping RV in BC

The Camping and RVing British Columbia Coalition is a non-profit marketing entity created to raise awareness of the wide range of camping and recreational vehicle (RV) experiences across the province of British Columbia (BC).